Senator Grace Poe on Sunday, October 31 lamented the government’s lack of proactive mechanisms to help public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers cope with the rising oil prices, saying she can only hope that the P1-billion promised cash assistance to the sector would materialize.
Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, noted that many PUV drivers have yet to receive any cash aid from the government since the country was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, under the service contracting program of the Land Transportation and Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“Halos P6-billion ang ibinigay namin sa service contracting, wala pang P1-billion ang nagasta nila doon. Pera naman ‘yan, alam mo gumugulong ang pera (Congress allocated almost P6-billion for the service contracting, but they’ve only spent a little more than P1-billion. That’s money that should have been rolling),” Poe said in an interview over Radio DZBB.
“So ibinibigay mo ‘yan sa nawalan ng trabaho na driver para magkaroon sila ng trabaho at meron silang kinikita at ‘yun namang mga ‘yun ay panggastos nila sa pamilya nila na babalik rin naman sa iba’t ibang mga negosyo na nagtitinda ng mga pangangailangan nila (You’re supposed to give that to drivers that lost their livelihood so they can work and earn and spend that for their family who in turn, will return to their respective businesses),” she said.
The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) earlier announced that the government is set to release P1-billion in financial assistance to PUV drivers affected by the continuing increase in oil prices and will distribute cash grants to around 178,000 recipients.
The said funds would be charged against the unprogrammed appropriations under the 2021 national budget for support for infrastructure projects and social programs.
But Poe said she can only hope that the money indeed would reach intended beneficiaries.
“Yung ipinangako nila na ibibigay nila ang ayuda doon sa 170,000 plus, maraming salamat pero ang sinasabi ko nga ay sana nga magkatotoo kasi iba naman ‘yung binanggit, iba rin naman ang nagawa (Their promise that the will give cash aid to the 170,000 plus individuals, I’m thankful for that, but as I said, I hope it becomes true, because saying it is different from actally enforcing it),” she said.
She lamented that while other countries have already instituted mechanisms to counter the effects of the rising oil prices in the global market, the Philippines lagged behind.
“Hindi kasi proactive. Ang ibig sabihin ng proactive…Uunahan mo na, aagapan mo, mabilis na pag-agap (The government is not proactive. Proactive means you have to get ahead of the problem),” she pointed out.